The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) over the weekend said it is working with shipping companies to reduce freight rates by about 30%.
The Executive Secretary of the Council; Mr Hassan Bello said this when a team from the International Monetary Fund(IMF) led by the Mission Chief Senior Resident Representative for Nigeria African Department, Amine Mati, paid a working visit to the Council to review the economic outlook for 2020.
Bello however expressed worries over non-availability of scanners at the ports, even as he assured that the machines will be available before the end of first quarter of 2020.
He told his guests that, "We are working with the shipping companies to reduce the cost to about 30% we will soon go into agreement. We are also concerned with the ease of doing business, for now there is 100% examination; there are no scanners in the ports"
"But I think around March or second quarter of the year, all these things will be done, with the customs and all the stakeholders which is very important. Because the ports itself is that of many interests"
Bello however said that the agency is trying to establish a Port Community System (PCS) to ensure professional synergy and the National Single Window.
"So, we are trying to build first of all Port Community System so that we will have professional synergy and then of course National Single Window which is the simplification of all the overall processes"
"We need to be open and transparent, we have reduced corruption at the ports and we need to automate the ports for faster clearance of cargoes"
Bello disclose that cargo dwell time currently stands between 18 and 20 days, but added that ship turnaround time is about 4.2 days. He however told the IMF delegation that efforts are on to reduce the days.
"We want to attract more cargoes here, not only for imports but also for exports and that is the whole issue"
Bello said the Council is working towards making the ports competitive, adding that it will make customers to have choices.
Bello nevertheless added that the nation's seaports attract between 40 and 60% of the cargoes from the region.
"Nigeria is in the centre of the North and Central region and it is the largest economy in Africa. Nigerian Ports attracts 40-60% of all the cargo in that sub region. So the Nigeria Shippers Council is cut out for it to make sure that the ports are more efficient because we are in competition with the ports in the region"
"We want to attract more cargos because of the economic consequences; we want Nigeria to be the hub. But there are constraints and these constraints are clear"
Bello blamed the use of one mode of transportation as the reason the roads are dilapidated.
"However there are logistics problems and one of it is the Infrastructure, the road to the port is a challenge and the government is now working on constructing all the roads leading to the ports, and the government is also going to introduce rail services into the ports", he added.